A Canadian city has enacted a measure to criminalize protests near city facilities amid a growing number of demonstrations at drag queen events held for children at libraries. The Calgary City Council voted 10-5 to pass a new bylaw prohibiting protests near city facilities, known as the Safe and Inclusive Access Bylaw. The policy went into effect immediately. The measure stipulates those protests targeting any race, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, disability, age, place of origin, marital or family status, sexual orientation, or income source must not take place within 100 meters of a public library or city-operated recreation centre entrances. The measure applies during, and one hour either side of, operational hours. Additionally, the bylaw prohibits protesters from impeding anyone’s entry or exit to a recreation facility. The council also amended the term “harassment” under its existing Public Behaviour bylaw to include “intimidation.”
Convictions under the bylaw are punishable by up to CA$10,000.00 ($7,310) or up to one year in prison. “The city is committed to ensuring that all Calgarians who wish to access public services and facilities are not being exposed to messaging or behaviour that is hateful, intimidates, harasses, or discriminates,” the council stressed in a statement. Shortly after the bylaw took effect, Calgary Police arrested 36-year-old Pastor Derek Reimer of Mission 7 Ministries and charged him with one count of breaching a release order that prohibited him from being within 200 meters of events involving the LGBT community. Reimer and others were protesting the new bylaw near a Calgary public library. Reimer was previously arrested after an incident in February where three men forcefully removed him from the Seton Library location of the Calgary Public Library for protesting an event with local drag performers reading to children.
The pastor was also issued a 30-day trespass notice after he held a silent prayer session in the Municipal Building to protest against the new bylaw. “Everyone who is visible, everyone in Canada who is boldly proclaiming Christianity, has become an open target,” said Pastor Artur Pawlowski, who serves as pastor of Street Church and Cave of Adullam Church in Calgary, Alberta, as quoted by Fox News. “Calgary was immune for a little bit from the drag queen perversion — because that’s what it is: it’s a sick, twisted perversion. … An adult man who dresses as a woman in a sexual manner and has the urge to do that in front of little children is a pervert, end of story.” Reimer faces charges that include one count of causing a disturbance, one count of mischief, and six counts of harassment under the city’s bylaw regulating public behaviour, according to Livewire Calgary.
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